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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Maine Dem Rep.: Trump Will Win And Democracy Will Be Just Fine; Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), Is Interviewed About January 6, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Civil Rights; Biden Campaign Tries To Reassure Nervous Democrats; Trump Reposts Meme Calling For Military Tribunal For Liz Cheney; 60th Anniversary Of Civil Rights Act; NYT: Biden's Lapses Are More Frequent, More Pronounces; Pressure Mounts On Biden As Dems Question Reelection Chances; Former Dem Rep. Says Kamala Harris Should Be Nominee. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President Trump has immunity from prosecution for official acts that he committed while in office, the former president seems to be testing the limits. He's amplifying calls for his political opponents to be jailed. One of those elected officials listed will join us in minutes.

Plus, is that largely what a potential second term under Donald Trump would look like, retribution for his perceived political enemies, the factors that could embolden Mr. Trump ahead?

And leading this hour, the White House is doing its best to try to push back on questions about President Biden, his mental fitness, his advanced age, all legitimate questions in overdrive since last week's CNN presidential debate. And now it's not just pundits and Democratic sources anonymously floating lines to journalists, at least one sitting Democrat, Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas, is now the first to go on the record calling on President Biden to drop out of the 2024 race. Let's go to CNN's MJ Lee. She's getting new reaction at the White House.

MJ, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre have faced some tough questions this afternoon. Some of them from you.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, this was the first White House briefing since the debate. So you can imagine the barrage of questions from reporters, CNN and other outlets pressing the White House for more information about the President's health and his medical records, including more information from his February annual physical, and also about the possibility of making Dr. O'Connor available to answer questions, the White House saying no to all of those things. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, continued to say that the White House does understand the concern that a lot of people are expressing about the President's health. And she insisted the White House is not hiding anything. She said the president doesn't have Alzheimer's, dementia or any kind of degenerative illness. She also said that she herself has never witnessed this kind of halting performance from the president in her interactions with the President in private.

And one thing a political, Jake, that I did press the White House press secretary on is the question of why the Democratic nominee has to be the president, particularly given our CNN poll that does show Vice President Kamala Harris within striking distance of Donald Trump.


LEE: So, how does the President explained not passing the baton to his own 59-year-old vice president given that kind of data?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That is something for them to take up. And that is something for them to answer. What I can speak to is the President's record. What I can speak to what he's been able to accomplish. And the things that he's been able to do and get done is actually in line with majority of Americans.

And I think that's important to note. And again, I will say with age comes wisdom and experience.


LEE: And she continued to say that what is important is the President's record. You heard her saying there with age comes wisdom. Of course the issue, Jake, is that a lot of these Democrats who are expressing grave concerns, it is not about the President's record, but his health and his age.

TAPPER: We also learned this afternoon, MJ, that President Biden has agreed to a sit down interview with ABC News, George Stephanopoulos.

LEE: Yes, the White House is doing multiple things to try to show the president more in these unscripted settings, including that sit down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, which is supposed to be an extended interview, also a press conference next week at NATO and also a meeting with Democratic elected officials, including some governors this week, as well. We'll see if he is able to calm those concerns. The White House says that it wants to turn the page, full steam ahead for the campaign. The White House says it's not clear, though, if any of the steps that they are going to take in the coming days will be enough.

TAPPER: Well, let me just ask a quick question. I mean, like if somebody was telling me that my career depended on the fact that people don't think I can ride a bicycle, and my poll numbers were suggesting that it was eroding trust in me because I can't ride a bicycle, I would get out there and ride a bicycle. I mean, that's what I would do. If there is concern that the President doesn't have the acuity to handle an hour or an hour and a half of questions, I don't understand the delay. Why not just have a press conference right now.

I mean, it's great to have a sit down interview on tape with an anchor, but that's not really the same thing as what we're talking about.

LEE: Yes. And since the debate, the President has not been in settings where he has been unscripted, where he has proven that he can be agile and nimble and take on tough questions, including last night when he delivered remarks here at the White House about the Supreme Court ruling. He could have taken questions from reporters in that setting. He didn't do that.

So, yes, I think you're right that he is waiting for this opportunity to do a sit down first with ABC News. The White House is, again, pointing to other opportunities that they are saying the President will seize in the coming days. But you're totally right that for the law last couple of days as there has been so much turmoil and so much panic within the party we've really not seen that side of the president.


TAPPER: All right, MJ Lee, thanks so much.

Joining us now Democratic congressman from Mississippi, Bennie Thompson.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. So your colleague from Maine, Congressman Jared Golden, a Democrat who represents a district that Donald Trump wins, he just wrote an op-ed titled, "Donald Trump is going to win the election, and democracy will be just fine," unquote. He writes in the op-ed, "Pearl clutching about a Trump victory ignores the strength of our democracy. January 6 2021, was a dark day, but Americans did strong. This election is about the economy, not democracy. And when it comes to our economy, our Congress matters far more than who occupies the White House," unquote. In terms of January 6, you're something of an expert. You're the former chairman of the January 6, select House committee. What's your response to your fellow Democrat?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, you know, every member of Congress represent his or her district. I'm sure that congressperson from Maine is representing the wishes of his district. You know, we -- most of us are either Democrats or Republicans. But at the end of the day, we have to represent our district. I respect his opinion. The greatness of this country, is that those differences can still keep us together. So, on that issue, obviously, I disagree with him, but I respect his opinion.

Now, with respect to January 6, as you know, it was a dark day for this country. And I don't want to see anyone get off the hook because of presidential immunity or something like that. I evidence clearly said Donald Trump was part of the reason that January 6 occurred. Now if he tried to somehow get behind presidential immunity, and I think people are still reviewing the opinion as to whether or not he gets off scot free. I don't think he will but I think some of this will have to play out in court.

TAPPER: How concerned are you about President Biden's standing right now? We have a new poll from CNN, most voters -- 75 percent, I think, of voters think Democrats have a better chance of keeping the White House if Biden is not the nominee. And we have a new poll suggesting that Vice President Kamala Harris is actually a stronger challenge within the margin of error to Donald Trump than President Biden is. What -- are you concerned about President Biden's acuity and his ability to win?

THOMPSON: Well, just like all of us who have committed to making sure that Donald Trump is not put back in the White House, we want the best foot forward. I will still lead with President Biden. He's a good man, his policies have worked. And we'll see how it works out.

If the new strategy, taking it to the people doing various town hall type meetings or interviews works out, then so be it. But I think at the end of the day, Democrats need to be united. If in fact, we go forward and that message is positive, then we have, in fact, done what's in the best interests of this country. But I think I wouldn't put everything on just one bad debate. I've been in elective office, a good while, some days, just not good days.

That debate was not a good day. But it's not the end of a campaign. It's not the end of his reelection effort. But we have to do some things to reassure the public that it was not just a one off but it was just a bad day.

TAPPER: Well, with all due respects, sir, it wasn't just about debate. I mean, we've seen other incidents, and I'm not just talking about aging, we all age, my parents are in their 80s, I get it, it happens. If we're lucky enough to make it to our 80s, it happens. It seems -- it doesn't seem like it's just ageing, don't you think?

THOMPSON: Well, I don't think that way. I've known him for quite a while. As people mature, things happen. But if I look at the policies, and I look at what his administration stands for, it's what keeps America great. He's a great leader.

He's respected by people around the world, and that has value. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is not that. So, when I look at the two individuals running for president leaving both tickets, I say Joe Biden is the person. He might have slowed down a little bit. But look, we all slow down.


I am, Jake, fully committed that if the doctors OK Joe Biden's health, and I understand that's part of the discussion, I'm prepared to go with it. I don't want the campaign to slip into this issue around, is he too old, is he's slow? Look at his policy, look at the good people around him. And look at how his administration has done so much for this economy. We are in better position, and we've been in quite a while.


THOMPSON: Again, I make no bones about the debate.

TAPPER: Yes. THOMPSON: It was not a good debate.

TAPPER: I want to move on to former president --

THOMPSON: It was not guarantee.

TAPPER: I want to move on to former President Trump, if I can, because Trump's been amplifying these social media posts calling for a televised military tribunal for former Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, the vice chair along with your chairmanship of the January 6 committee. And Trump also reposted a picture of you, which includes photos of 14 other former and current elected officials that says, "They should be going to jail on Monday, not Steve Bannon." Obviously, you should not be going to jail. You did not commit any crimes. And there should not be a military tribunal for Liz Cheney.

She is not guilty of treason. All of this is wild and crazy. What's your -- are you worried, I guess is my question. Are you worried?

THOMPSON: No. Well, look, Donald Trump is a convicted felon. He'll do anything to try to get the monkey off his back. And that's what he's doing. He's just being Donald Trump.

I can't imagine a family person sitting watching T.V. and Donald Trump's on it and that person say, look, one day you can be just like him, son or daughter, president. He's not the ideal person that you'd want your son or daughter to be. Let's face it, he doesn't tell the truth. He has lied more than anybody. And so for me, a member of Congress from the south, who wouldn't be here had it not been for my fellow government, who defended my rights as a person to run for public office, I expect my government to take care of me.

I don't want my government to become an oppressor. We can't have a president who thinks they are king. He can't be a dictator for a date. He can't get any of that. And so what we have in this person is somebody who basically is not a good person.

He will not tell the truth. In this country, as well as being a leader, you have to be a man or a woman of your word.


THOMPSON: Donald Trump is not a man of his word.

TAPPER: On the subject you were just talking about before about the federal government and advances allowing you to the position of prominence you hold today, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law 60 years ago today. How are you thinking about that important legislation?

THOMPSON: Well, there's no question, Jake. This country looks after all of its people, black, brown, whomever who comes into this country, it's a great place to be. We're not for the young men and women who came to the south and other parts of the country trying to get communities like the one I live in right now to treat us citizens like the framers of the Constitution said we wouldn't have it. So 60 years later, we're still struggling. We have one person running for president who demonizes the immigrant population trying to come to this country.

He didn't say that we have black jobs in America. All those kinds of things -- that's not who we are. So with civil rights, human rights, we can do better. So as we celebrate these 60 years of civil rights legislation being passed by Democrats and Republicans, it's a time to rejoice and not look back, but look forward.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, always good to have you on, sir. Thank you so much.

The "New York Times" is that with new reporting now, noting more frequent lapses from President Biden observed by people who have spent time with him behind closed doors. One of the reporters who worked to get this reporting is going to join us next. Plus, Donald Trump's position on all this. His response when asked who he would want to run against if President Biden were to step aside? We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: And we're back with more in our 2024 lead, the "New York Times" out with a new headline this afternoon saying that "Biden's lapses are increasingly common according to some of those in the room." One of those on the byline is "New York Times" White House Correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs. He's also a CNN political analyst.

Zolan, how common are you hearing these slip ups happen? And what is the degree of slip up?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So this was the big question for many coming out of that debate debacle for President Biden. Is this a one off? Has this been happening more often more frequently? And our reporting here has shown that they're -- that people are going more concerned and have noticed more instances where the President seems confused or stumbles over the name of his own official or another foreign official. These sorts of lapses in the stumblings are becoming more frequent in recent months and even recent weeks.

It is worth noting that leading into the debate, the President had a circus of travel, two international trips going to California for a fundraiser to the point that by the time that he got to Camp David our reporting shows that we -- our reporting shows that he was starting to work at 11:00 a.m. that it included a nap while he was at Camp David. Later on in the week, he would have a DACA event before the debates. And I talked to folks at that event that also were startled, saying that the soft spoken sort of tone and his tendency on occasion to stumble over the name of somebody including his own cabinet official definitely left some in the crowd shaken up who had followed him for a while now.

So, look, our reporting does not seek to put a sort of root cause or diagnosis on this. But one thing that is becoming clear is that for those that are around the president both inside and in public these sort of more common -- these lapses are becoming more common, the stumbling in his speeches are becoming more common. And it has caused anxiety, particularly in the wake of a debate that seems to be becoming sort of a flashpoint for this election.


TAPPER: You also write about President Biden's interactions with world leaders when he was abroad and what appeared to be efforts by these world leaders to hide him, shield him from cameras.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Yes, that's right. That's right. I mean, that was also a big question coming out of this. Not only what did world leaders think about the debate, but also what have they noticed, particularly in these trips. And you're right, they did notice sort of a what appear to be an attempt to sort of crowd around him as he walked out at times, apparently other leaders leading him sort of back into the group at the -- we've also talked to foreign leaders that said that they noticed as well, that sort of there had been sort of a decline in physically for the president as well.

We talked to a former official who said that what they saw would not be the person that they would sort of sit next to, sit against foreign adversaries at this time, based off of what they've seen in recent weeks. So there has been a ripple effect globally.

Look, I mean, there's -- the reporting has shown there's sort of two President Bidens. There's still the person that is able to make a trip to Ukraine, we have new reporting in here as well about after Israel was considering sort of -- any sort of military action against Iran, that the President was on the phone with him basically saying, you -- warning him to not do that. And the White House also brought out multiple officials that have spoken to his ability. But then there's this other version of President Biden as well that has these frequent slip ups. And you would think as well on other issue here is that we're really only getting sort of part of the story when we haven't seen the President do as many press conferences or interviews, as well.

So, there's also a transparency question here sort of moving forward to get the complete picture and get to the answer of the question of whether or not the debate truly was a one off which it appears to not be. Or -- and which President Biden we're going to see throughout the rest of the campaign season.

TAPPER: Zolan Kanno-Youngs, always good to have you on. Thank you so much.

More insight from inside the Democratic Party had one of Barack Obama's closest most senior advisors it's going to join us next



TAPPER: Are the walls beginning to crack around President Biden? As we have reported, the first sitting Democratic member of Congress, Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas, called on President Biden to drop out of the race earlier today. Also today, other top Democratic lawmakers have gone further than they have before in questioning President Biden's abilities in the wake of what we all saw during last week's CNN debate.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Now again, I think it's a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition? And so when people ask that question is legitimate of candidate.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): I think he has to be honest with himself. It's his decision. I just want him to appreciate at this time, just how much it impacts not just his race, but all the other races that are coming in November.


TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi's office put out a statement after that interview saying that she has full confidence in President Biden. But earlier on the show, you heard former Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio saying that Kamala Harris should be the nominee for the Democrats.

With us now, former senior adviser in the Obama administration, David Axelrod.

David, always good to see you. Do you think this is where we're at an inflection point? Is this the beginning of Democrats publicly saying we need someone else to be the nominee? Or is it going to be Biden ride or die all the way to November?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the conversations that that have begun to be had publicly are being held all over the party privately. I think there have been -- there's been great concern since Thursday night.

Look, Jake, the concern going into the debate was what -- you know, this question of age and his ability to perform, and the thought was that he would pull a State of the Union and perform well enough to quell those concerns. And instead, those concerns were exacerbated. And it is true that in, you know, in some polling that the -- there's not some cratering in that polling, but he started off behind. And so we needed to gain ground, and it's harder to gain ground now. So, you know, there is concern and there is concern among Democratic candidates who currently are running well ahead of him in their races, but wonder how much they can take in terms of fall off at the top of the ticket.

So, yes, I think, you know -- I don't think this is the end. I think that these conversations are going to accelerate. And ultimately, it's the President's decision, as been said. I've been saying that all along, it's up to the President of the United States. But I also know he's a fighter, and his inclination is going to be to fight. He's defied the odds all his life.


AXELROD: He's overcome great personal adversity, political odds and so on. And so his inclination is to be the fight. I also heard him last night, Jake, talk about the threat to our democracy after that Supreme Court decision. And I think he acutely understands that, feels that. And I think he's a patriot who spent 50 years of his life in service of this country.


AXELROD: And that decision is solely his.

TAPPER: -- you can fight expectations, you can fight polls, you can't fight Father Time and Mother Nature. I mean, that --


TAPPER: -- they have -- they're undefeated. And frankly, David, you were warning about this a year ago publicly and the White House went after you ferociously.

AXELROD: Yes. Well, listen, that -- let's set that aside. But what I said then is what I fear now, which is that -- my -- I said my concerns were not political. I think the President had -- has a great record. I think that the choice between the President and Donald Trump is abundantly clear. But my concerns were actuarial, they weren't political. The arrow only points one way in life. And none of us are immune to it. And especially when you're in the toughest job on the planet, you know, think of the pressures that this President has been under, over the past year and, you know, personal and political.


So is it any wonder that that advances the process? I watched a President I worked for who is three years younger age significantly, over the course of eight years in the presidency, it's a killer job.

TAPPER: Let's talk about him.

AXELROD: So there's no shame in that.

TAPPER: Let's talk about him because --


TAPPER: -- he came out and he said, and on a tweet, you know, I had a bad poll -- I had a bad debate, too. And, you know, yes, he had a rusty first debate with Mitt Romney in 2012, where he seemed huffy, and not as agile as he was, but it's not even remotely comparable. Nobody was calling for him to step down. Nobody was wondering if he could do the job as president because of that performance. Where is President Obama? It -- what is he advising his former Vice President?

AXELROD: Well, I'm not going to talk about their conversations. I don't even know what their conversations have been, to be honest with you, or if they've had one.

TAPPER: Right. But he can read polls.


TAPPER: And he can watch T.V. I mean --


TAPPER: The smart guy.

AXELROD: Yes. And he'll give the President whatever advice he'll give the President but he's going to get I mean, they are friends. He -- they work closely together. And I think he's likely to keep whatever he feels between the two of them. And he also believes that this is a decision for President Biden. But one thing I want to say, Jake, you know, they are now -- the president -- President Biden has a very light week this week. If you wanted to rebuff the concerns that people have or assuage the concerns that people had, you would have been out here with it -- at a furious pace this week. You would have been doing interviews last Sunday, not next Sunday. You would have been beginning to call people immediately after the debate. He hasn't really made these calls. And the question is why, why is it taken so long to do these things that just adds to people's concerns?

TAPPER: Yes. That's the question. If somebody says, the fate of the world and your job depends on whether or not you can ride a bike, you get on a bike. So far, no, no --

AXELROD: Right. And the bike is -- and a bike is not reading a speech off the teleprompter.

TAPPER: Exactly.

AXELROD: I mean, the thing about these debates is that they're sort of like oral exams, you know, you're up there with no notes, no prompter. And you've got to deal with whatever comes. And so, yes, it wasn't an issue like this for President Obama, although there was nervousness when he had a bad debate, but nobody questioned going in his mental acuity or his stamina because he was 30 years younger. And so he didn't get the kind of backlash that you're feeling. Now, the problem with this is it exacerbated what is the worst negative that Biden has, people don't doubt his heart. They don't add his experience. They don't doubt his character. This is the one issue that he has, and it was on full display on Thursday night, and it just made the problem worse.

TAPPER: David Axelrod, always good to have you on. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

Coming up next --

AXELROD: Good to see you.


TAPPER: -- what a second term might look like if Donald Trump wins the election in November. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our 2024 Lead or maybe I shouldn't say in our possible 2025 Lead, there has been a lot of coverage of the so called Project 2025 policy paper. This is former President Donald Trump's big plan working with conservative allies such as the Heritage Foundation drawing up something of a blueprint for a possible second term. Democrats even responded with a task force of their own trying to block this mandate for leadership as they call it. CNN is now reporting that it might be a bit of a side plot about Trump's most impactful potential plans.

Joining us now chief domestic correspondent Phil Mattingly who's digging in on this. So Phil, last week you pointed out the five ways a second Trump administration we'd be different from the first. You have said that in 2025, Trump presidency he would immediately enjoy obviously loyal Republican lawmakers, friendly judges, both Supreme Court and federal, sharpened policymaking, a pipeline for loyal advisers, and an emboldened debase coupled with the possibility that he could in fact, pardon himself. And that was all before the immunity decision. Was it before the debate also, if I think it possibly was as well. So how does any of that change it?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: I think what you saw from the Supreme Court, what it does more than anything else is it validates where things had been heading. If you look at the theory of the case behind the policy and the people that would implement the policy and a second term for a Trump administration, their belief of a very expansive executive authority sits at the core of that. And more than anything else, when we saw from the Supreme Court, driven by three individuals who were strong believers have this kind of unitary executive theory that sits at the base of this is that they believe that that expansive theory is not fringe, it is not on the periphery, it is not just what conservatives believe, but could never actually put into practice. It's reality.

So there's one piece of it on the policy side of things, what they want to do in terms of how the federal government would operate, how the President would have authority over the executive branch, this seems to validate their legal the legal underpinning of that. The other is how Trump perceives it, if this means that what you put through those kind of five pillars that will make the second term different, make him more powerful than he ever was in a first term is that this eliminates yet another restraint or constraint on him in his mind, but also in the minds of the lawyers that are around him, both in the Counsel's Office and the Justice Department.

TAPPER: Yes, and he won't have John Kelly and General Mattis there. Let's talk about Project 2025. Democrats been sounding the alarm about this document more than 900 pages. What's -- what is it and what are Democrats so riled up about?

MATTINGLY: I think critically, you should point out this is not a campaign document. These are advisors though, many of whom will probably be in a second Trump White House should he win in November. What it is it's on paper. And I think when you put 900 plus pages of conservative policies, and the vast majority of them are strong conservative policies that you and I would be very familiar with. But they're also very aggressive. And I think some of them would be considered radical, even by some Republicans when you look at the immigration space, when you look at the federal agency space, when you look at what they would want to do with abortion, and things like mifepristone, they spelled them out in detail, written each chapter by somebody who either had a past high level role in the administration, or could likely have won in the second administration, laying out what they aspirationally would like to do.


I think the reality is, is it actually tracks with the closely with what we've seen from the Trump team from the campaign on their own website. The President has been very upfront about his expansive policy goals for a second term. And it's also this, Project 2025 is not operating in isolation, nor are they operating in a vacuum. There's a constellation of outside groups, very well-funded. Former Trump administration officials that would likely be in a second term that are doing similar things just less publicly, Trump would enter the White House, not only with those very loyal advisers, no John Kelly, no General Mattis, but also with a policy team that is far more fleshed out than we ever saw in the first term.

TAPPER: Yes. And, you know, we keep saying Trump amplifying social media posts, or retruthing, really, just empirically outrageous suggestions of what should happen under a Trump administration, televised military tribunal for Republican former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, member of the January 6th Committee. She's done -- she's not guilty of treason. That's crazy. There's no charge. There's no military tribunal. I mean, it's all insane. Yet, he put it out there. But it is worth remembering the context of the fact that in "The New York Times," Peter Baker and "New Yorker" Susan Glasser's book, they quoted John Kelly, saying that Trump once asked him, why his generals couldn't be more like Hitler's.

MATTINGLY: Right. And also, when you talk to advisors, they now say very explicitly that he did ask why isn't the Justice Department prosecuting Hillary Clinton, why isn't just Justice Department prosecuting Democratic lawmakers, even some Republicans who had gone against him? What stood in the way of that was the White House Counsel's Office or the Justice Department saying explicitly, we can't do this. We don't have grounds. This isn't how it normally works. There's supposed to be kind of a wall here in between the White House and executive branch agencies and I think that's probably where more.

If you saw it, and some of the dissents from the more liberal justices in this immunity case, is the extreme is not necessarily taken account -- taken into account in where the majority ended up. John Roberts tries to dismiss, and says explicitly that your fear mongering with the SEAL Team Six right examples, things like that. It's more likely that presidents would go through a spiral of trying to prosecute one another if we don't do this, if we don't find what we found on immunity. And I think the counter to that is what happens if you have someone like Donald Trump, who is taking the opposite side of this, he does want to go after his political opponents. Sure. He couldn't go after Joe Biden. He would have immunity for those presidential acts. But other people in that case in an unrestrained and non-norms justifying presidency, could be able to do that.

TAPPER: And when it's not a very conservative but establishment figure like Bill Barr as Attorney General, let's say it's somebody quite out there like Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. I mean, he's a perfect example. Phil Mattingly, he is going to continue to dig in on the details of Project 2025. Thanks so much.


Donald Trump was asked who he would want to run against if President Biden were to drop out. His response, next.



TAPPER: Continuing with our 2024 Lead, we're going to have a lot of 2024 leads just so you know. Just last hour, former congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan, a Democrat made the case why he thinks vice president Kamala Harris should be the Democratic nominee. Here's part of what he had to say.


TIM RYAN (D-OH), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: The choice issue is going to be huge in this election. There's a lot at stake for women who better to prosecute that argument than Kamala Harris. She energizes our base. I mean, we're bleeding out young people right now. We're losing in the different minority communities. We're losing support. Support is soft. I think she would absolutely juice up the Democratic base.


TAPPER: Something interesting that happened today, Maria and Shermichael, is that CNN has a new poll that actually shows Harris would be a stronger candidate, just one poll. But in this poll, Harris would be a stronger candidate against Biden than, I'm sorry, against Trump than Biden would.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, right. And look, if it comes to that, that's great. But Jake, I think we all have to take a step back. We have to take a beat. I know everyone is breathlessly reporting on polls, and on what people are saying the conversations that are going on and those conversations need to be going on. As David Axelrod said, those conversations are with people that are very concerned. It's been not even a week since the debate.

The campaign is looking at all the polls. They're getting a lot of the data. I think after this July 4th weekend, when lawmakers go back to their constituents, they're going to hear from them. They're going to come back. They're going to talk to the campaign. But there's some anecdotes I think that are missing. The night of the debate, I was on CNN Espanol doing analysis, our audience looked at the debate through and listen to it through translators on Univision and Telemundo as well.

There were focus groups that were done on dials of undecided voters. After that debate, they went towards Biden, because you know what, they all saw what we all saw, there's no question, Jake. But they also heard what was coming out of Donald Trump's mouth. And that was so incredibly, not just insulting, but scary from a group of people that understand just how dangerous another four years of Donald Trump would be.

So let's see what happens. Right now Latino voters, black voters, young voters, reproductive women groups, immigrant advocacy groups, they're all doubling down and tripling down on support for President Biden because they know what's at stake.

TAPPER: So Shermichael, yesterday in a radio interview with Richmond's Morning News with John Reid, former President Trump has asked who he would want to run against if Biden steps down. Again, there's no indication in fact everything to the contrary that Biden is going to step down. But here's what Trump had to say.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They say the only one they could choose is Kamala, because of the, you know, what that would represent to the black population, that they would be extremely upset if that didn't happen. I don't know. But, you know, I don't think she improves their numbers very much.


TAPPER: Sounds like it's a little bit of a cold there. We should know, not only does Harris do better in a head to head matchup than Biden in the new CNN poll. Among women voters, Shermichael, it's Biden gets 44, Trump gets 47. So Trump wins the women's vote against Biden. Harris in a head to head gets 50, Trump gets 43. I mean, that is stark.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean actually not surprised by this. I mean, I've been observing the vice president schedule for quite some time now. And I think she is at her best, Jake, when she's talking about reproductive rights. And I know a lot of Democrats, I'm saying this as a conservative. Well, Kamala Harris can't win. I'm actually not convinced of that. And I'll tell you why. I'm looking at black woman, I'm looking at younger black woman. I'm looking at White women of color. And I'm looking at the numbers compared to 2018, 2022. They voted overwhelmingly for Democrats because of this particular issue.

I think if you have someone who's younger, who can articulate that case, and then you got to figure out a way to deal with economic issues, you got to figure out a way to deal with immigration issues if you're a Democrat, but her net positives appear to be better than President Biden. And she also has the youth on her side, which the President does not have. So again, I'm not trying to advise Democrats.

TAPPER: Right.

SINGLETON: But if I were to consider this, all of the data suggests that the Vice President would be a far more formidable candidate than the current president.

TAPPER: And let me put up a also from our poll, independent voters, OK, in a head to head matchup of independent voters. Biden gets 34 percent, Trump gets 44 percent. I mean, that's stunning. Again, it's just a poll, right? But still, and then Harris, gets 43 percent, Trump gets 40 percent. Again, it's -- I mean, it's all hypothetical.

CARDONA: That's right.

TAPPER: And it's just a poll. But the polls that were Biden campaign, that was a big argument over the weekend, when they were putting out a poll saying, look, Biden is better in polls than any of these people.

CARDONA: Right. And again, it depends on the poll. That's why they are gathering all of the data, Jake, right? I've seen polls where Biden has gone up two points. So let's give it a minute. Let's give it a minute. And not only that, Jake, but you know, there was an announcement, he's going to talk to George Stephanopoulos. He's going to sit down with a group of Black Journalists, a group of Latino journalists, which I think is really smart. Let's also take into consideration the massive amount of money that they raised $36 million since the debate, grassroots that really underscores the support among grassroots voters who are incredibly concerned about the possibility of Donald Trump getting to the White House. So again, let's take a beat and then let's see where we are.


SINGLETON: I think a part of the problem is, how long do you wait? I mean, most politicians, you and I've worked on a lot of campaigns, typically a crisis like this, you're going to immediately jump out and get in front of this thing. It's been five days. The interview is what I think this weekend.

TAPPER: Friday, yes.

SINGLETON: It's not a live interview from my understanding.

TAPPER: Right.

SINGLETON: We still haven't seen the President in an arena where he is unscripted where very challenging questions are being asked.

TAPPER: Well, we saw on Thursday.

SINGLETON: I mean, well, yes, he didn't do very well, Jake. But I would like to see -- CARDONA: From the rally on Friday, you saw him talking, you know, again yesterday from the White House.

SINGLETON: But it was scripted, Maria.

CARDONA: Yes, you're right. From the teleprompter.


CARDONA: Let's give it a chance to see what happens in the coming days. I agree. He's got to be in a more unscripted space. Right now, voters are sticking with him. Let's see what happens.

TAPPER: To be continued.


TAPPER: We'll have you both back.

SINGLETON: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: We got four months.

SINGLETON: Well done, by the way.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Appreciate it. I know you just like the suit.


Ahead, the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic in the month of July. We're going to tell you where it's heading, next.



TAPPER: Last leads now in our Earth Matters Series, this satellite image shows Category 4 Hurricane Beryl, hurling right towards Jamaica. The storm is expected to bring life threatening winds and extreme flooding to the island tomorrow. At least six people are dead after the record breaking hurricane left part of the windward and Caribbean islands in ruins.

A tragic update for you from Israel in our World Lead, the mother of a rescued Israeli hostage has died. Liora Argamani was battling brain cancer when her beloved daughter Noa was kidnapped and held by Hamas for eight months. Noa was rescued by Israel's military last month after she returned. Noa said her biggest worry in her captivity was for her parents. The Medical Center treating her mother says, Liora spent her last days with her daughter by her side. May Liora Argamani's memory be a blessing.

Also in our World Lead, at least 30 people were injured after severe turbulence sent passengers hurtling through the cabin. Broken seats, bloody cushions and ceiling panels littered the aisles after the Air Europa flight made a sudden drop. According to passengers, the plane fell more than 1,000 feet, throwing passengers from their seats with one passenger thrust into an overhead compartment.

In our Pop Culture Lead actor, Jamie Foxx, shared new details about last year's health crisis that landed him in the hospital. A video posted on TikTok this week shows Foxx briefly talking about his ordeal with a group of folks. Take a listen.


JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: Look, April 11 last year. Bad headache. I asked my boy for an Advil. I was gone for 20 days. I don't remember anything.



TAPPER: Later Foxx pointed to his head and said the doctor told him, quote, something was going on up there, unquote. Foxx then said he didn't want to say what it was on camera. Jamie Foxx is still not publicly said what exactly caused his hospitalization but of course we're all glad he's feeling better.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter and on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can follow the show on X at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts and all two hours just sitting right there.

The news continues on CNN. Pamela Brown is in for Wolf Blitzer. But she is still in a place right next door that I like to call the Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.